Not having a will may not seem like a concern right now, particularly for healthy and young people and those without a spouse or children.
However, passing away without a will can leave your loved ones facing consequences and hardship for years to come.
The legal obstacles
Dying without a will is called dying intestate. If this happens, your loved ones will need to petition the court to accomplish several different tasks. For instance, Zappos’ former CEO passed away in a fire, and his family has not been able to locate a will.
According to a report, his family has had to ask the court’s permission to access safe deposit boxes to investigate whether there is a will or estate plan and speak with his legal representatives.
If they cannot find a will, the family will also need to seek approval to appoint a personal representative and navigate the complexity of distributing assets without direction.
These legal obstacles can be tedious and frustrating, especially at a time when family members are also coping with grief.
The personal toll
Without the guidance of the documents in an estate plan, families may have to make painful, complicated choices. Matters such as health care decisions, charitable giving and asset distribution can all be decided in an estate plan, so if you do not have one, your loved ones and the courts will decide.
Being in this position can leave people struggling with guilt and doubt.
The financial repercussions
There is a cost to dealing with legal and personal matters after a person’s death. People who die without a will likely have not taken steps to set aside money for the estate administration process or to compensate a personal representative for their efforts. And there can be missed opportunities for tax incentives, leaving a smaller estate to distribute.
Rather than leave painful aftermath for your loved ones to navigate, you can create an estate plan that provides critical support and direction that can make a difficult time easier for everyone.